Species Profile

Southern Flying Squirrel

Scientific Name: Glaucomys volans
Taxonomy Group: Mammals
Range: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: April 2006
Last COSEWIC Designation: Non-active
SARA Status: Schedule 3, Special Concern - (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)


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Quick Links: | Photo | Description | Habitat | Biology | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Southern Flying Squirrel

Southern Flying Squirrel Photo 1
Southern Flying Squirrel Photo 2

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Description

The Southern Flying Squirrel does not actually fly, but has a membrane of skin extending from wrist to ankle which permits gliding. It is a small squirrel with the large, luminous black eyes characteristic of many nocturnal species. It also has a long tail, long and pointed ears, and tiny claws on its digits. The fur is mostly grey-brown, though the flanks are darker; the membrane is very dark on top and pinkish-buff below; the cheeks and sides of the neck are buff; the under parts are white; and the tail is smoky-grey. There is one annual moult, in September or October. Adults measure 211 to 257 mm and weigh between 52 and 69.5 g.

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Distribution and Population

The Southern Flying Squirrel occurs in Mexico and from the Gulf of Mexico through the eastern United States to the Great Lakes. In Canada, Southern Flying Squirrels are found in southern Ontario, southwestern Québec and southern Nova Scotia. New Brunswick sightings have not been confirmed. There are no estimates on the size of the Canadian population of Southern Flying Squirrels. Although the population sizes of these squirrels vary widely, they are considered stable in Canada.

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Habitat

Southern Flying Squirrels inhabit hardwood forests in eastern North America. Dead hollow trees are used as den sites.

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Biology

Southern Flying Squirrels usually have two litters a year, the first between April and early June, and the second between July and September. Sexual maturity is reached from six months to one year of age. The gestation period is 40 days. Litters contain 1 to 7 young. The young remain in their tree dens for seven weeks before gradually being weaned.

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Loss and degradation of habitat are the main factors limiting Southern Flying Squirrel populations. The hardwood forests have been drastically fragmented and reduced in area, and these squirrels will not live in isolated woodlots. Competition for food with Grey Squirrels also limits the size of the Southern Flying Squirrel population.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

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